WHAT IS TRUE FAITH IN GOD?
Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said “In a certain city there was a judge who had no respect for God or anyone else. In that city someone kept coming and asking justice from her opponent. We do not really know who or what her opponent was. Yet I am so tired of this nagging widow, I am going to grant her justice just to get her off my back. The Lord said, Listen to me: What the unjust says. Will God grant justice to the righteous that pray continually and wait on God. He will quickly grant justice to his chosen ones.
Yet when the son of man comes will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18: 1-8)
I have an agenda, and this person is not on my agenda. This passage reminds us of what we have been talking about the last couple weeks. We talked about Timothy and his mentor Paul. He tells Timothy to always pray for all people, especially for people that are in positions of authority, positions in the government, positions in the church, positions in the community. Pray for all people especially those that have been given a charge over something or someone else. Perhaps you are one of those people. And if that’s the case, maybe we should pray for you. Yet, if you are not, does that mean we should not pray for you?
What about people that have some authority in their home? What about people that have authority over their own lives. I think God is telling me to pray for you. Everyone of you have authority over something, even if it’s the authority of the way you live your lives. I think that’s the thing that Jesus means when he says: Yet when the son of man comes will he find faith on earth?
Paul tells us to continue in the practice we have learned. Continue in your lifestyle of prayer and value for others around you. Whatever the church and church leaders have taught and worked with you: Continue and be persistent, whether it’s a favorable time or unfavorable time.
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness. So, everyone who believes in God should be proficiently equipped for every good work. So pray for your teachers. Pray for Sunday school teachers. Pray for you pastor. Pray for your friends that have led you on your journey to God. Pray for other pastors in our community. Pray for pastors and rectors in charge in the churches of our diocese.
Jesus told his disciples also that they needed to pray always and not lose heart. God tells us in other places to pray without ceasing. Even though you don’t see the answer to your prayer, keep praying, because sometimes that prayer comes back to you in answers in unexpected ways and unexpected times, and maybe in unexpected response. And here’s another way that Jesus may be referring to when he says: Yet when the Son of Man comes will he find faith on earth?
Sometimes God says: I want you to be the hands and legs on your prayer. If you are calling out for change in our community, in our church, or in some other important area in our world that means so much to us. If we want change, and we want to see something better, pray for it, but better yet, let that prayer bring you to being involved in the answer to that prayer. Maybe you are not only to pray for change, but maybe God wants you to be the answer to that prayer for change.
Change does not always look like what we want it to look like. I am often reminded in our churches when we say: “Yes, we want to change.” But what does that really mean? Maybe it means that what we want is change for the better, but we really don’t want to change the way we do things. We don’t want to change the way we do church. We don’t want to do things that might make us uncomfortable in our life. What we want is church the way we want it, but with all the resources we need and a whole bunch of people around to do stuff for us.
One positive outcome of the Covid pandemic may be that we were forced to change the way we do things in church, like Holy Communion, meeting together in fellowship. This pushed us in directions that we felt uncomfortable with, like worshipping at home instead of in public. Things we took for granted, that we thought was important to us. But now, we know what’s really important. We love communion, but we found out that fellowship with one another meant more than having a shared cup and a shared meal together in close proximity. We learned that our faith could live even in spaces that were difficult. We also learned what was important, and some of the things we thought were so important, are not so much anymore, but the real things we missed like Holy Communion, fellowship with one another and being the church together in community and in other area of our lives, are so much more valuable now.
Every one of you are more important now to me than you were ever before. Every one of you have gone through war with a pandemic with an evil force behind it to kill, to maim and destroy, and most of us have survived. Some have not. We lost our dear brother David to Covid. I have prayed with many of you who have lost relatives and friends this past year, to Covid, cancer, heart attacks, or something else. Tragedy hits us when we are least expecting it. That’s why we should always be praying for each other. We never know what is going to happen next.
When we are faced with a crisis, we begin to be challenged; what is truly important in your life? What’s important in your life? Is family important? Like we read in Jeremiah last week: Make the best of the city when you are in it, make the best of the world situations in which you live every day. Make the best in this world because the world is not always your best friend. As we said last week: Jesus said, yes, we have to live in this world, but we do not have to let the negative influences damage our faith. If anything, it will make your faith stronger.
We are encouraged to be persistent in our commitment to the Gospel and our Christian lives. Be consistent in those things that are valuable. Again, what is valuable in your life? Some of you may say family. Is family valuable to you? Is church valuable to you? Are your brothers and sisters that pray for you, valuable to you? Are your friends and loved ones valuable to you? Is sharing the love of God with outside of these four walls valuable to you?
You my brothers and sisters are valuable to me, and we are valuable to one another. We are told this morning to do what? What are we told to do? We are told to be persistent in our prayers for one another and to pray at all times. To maintain the unity of faith with the cost of commitment.
Remember this: Pray continually. And be open to looking for your answers in unexpected ways and unexpected times. Value what God has put into your life. Use those valuable things to encourage you so that you can become sometimes the arms and feet of your prayers. That your life may be what Jesus says he is looking for when he says:
Yet when the son of man comes will he find faith on earth?